It’s the ultimate in overkill, a fully-amorered vehiche with portholes in the side so State Troopers can shoot from the protection inside and a gun emplacement on top that looks like something out of Star Wars.  It’s a Virginia State Trooper tactical team personnel vehicle and the Old Dominion’s finest have deployed it on the roads of Floyd County to hunt down Southwest Virginia’s most-wanted: Steven Dale Branscome.

Branscome was still at large as darkness fell Wednesday night and, if he is not found, the 16 police agengies that have invaded the county expect to have 400 armed and ready officers on the ground.

Some of those who man the armored car have a swagger and attitude to match. Cops call it the John Wayne Syndrome. Thankfully, you don’t see that kind of swagger in Floyd County deputies or even most of the State Troopers assigned to our area but it is alive and well on the tactical unit members transported into the area. Floyd County deputies still believe their role is "to protect and to serve." Some of the more aggressive members of the State tactical team members act like their motto is "search and destroy."

When one saw me taking pictures of their toy, he demanded to know what I was doing (which should have been obvious), then wanted to know my intentions and my identification.

His approach brought back memories of an encounter last summer with a member of the Parkway’s Criminal Interdiction Team (CIT). My response:

I’m a resident of this county standing in a public parking lot taking pictures of a vehicle bought with public tax money. Any other information is none of your business.

The last time I checked, the Constitution and the rights it protects, still exists.